Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

January 12, 2013

MLB: New-look Rangers still have 'some good pieces'

ARLINGTON, Texas — Adrian Beltre watched this offseason as the Texas Rangers tried to sign the top free-agent pitcher on the market and keep slugger Josh Hamilton.

The Gold Glove third baseman who hit .321 with 36 homers last year realizes some big bats are missing from the Texas lineup now that Hamilton signed with the AL West rival Los Angeles Angels, Mike Napoli agreed to a deal with Boston that still hasn't been finalized and Michael Young got traded to Philadelphia.

Yet that doesn't change how Beltre feels about what the Rangers can do this season, a year after being knocked out in a one-and-done wild-card game following consecutive World Series appearances.

"We still have a good enough team to compete and hopefully win the West,'' Beltre said Friday during the team's annual Fan Fest. "We'll still have some good pieces in that lineup that can do the job. ... There's no doubt they tried. They obviously pursued Zack Greinke. They were wanting to bring (Hamilton) back.''

The Rangers still have Beltre and Nelson Cruz in the middle of a lineup that includes Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus. There will also be newcomers Lance Berkman, a switch-hitting DH, and catcher A.J. Pierzynski.

They also have a pitching staff led by a more comfortable Yu Darvish, the Japanese ace who won 16 games as a major league rookie last season, along with left-handers Matt Harrison (18-11) and Derek Holland (12-7).

Darvish and the Rangers were working at this point last year to complete an extended negotiation for the right-hander to make the move to the majors.

This offseason, Darvish is able to better focus on getting ready for his second big league season.

"Compared to last year, I feel so much more at ease. ... I really feel I'm part of the team now. How I feel right now is a totally different feeling,'' Darvish said through a translator. "Last year, there was more of a rush in trying to prepare at a much quicker pace. I'm going at my own pace, working out. This offseason, the preparation has been much better.''

In 29 regular-season starts for Texas, Darvish went 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA and 221 strikeouts in 191 1-3 innings. He was an All-Star for the Rangers, who won 93 games.

When asked about last season, Darvish described it as "so-so.''

Texas manager Ron Washington said Darvish "certainly has the potential to be an ace,'' but stopped short of declaring him the team's No. 1 starter for the upcoming season.

Another potential opening-day starter is Harrison, also an All-Star last season. The Rangers have been talking to the lefty about a contract extension, and Harrison indicated Friday night that the sides could talk more this weekend while he is in town.

As for the offense, Hamilton hit a career-high 43 home runs with 128 RBIs last season while Napoli had 24 homers and 56 RBIs in 108 games. Young was the longest-tenured Texas player, the team's career hits leader in his 12 seasons.

"It's definitely going to be a different atmosphere,'' Harrison said.

"They played a big role for the team,'' Cruz said. "We've got to move on.''

Washington made it clear that he doesn't want Cruz, who had 24 homers last season, to have the mindset that he has to try to do more to make up for those losses.

"Nobody's going to do what Josh did,'' Cruz said. "I'm just going to play my role, do what I do. ... If we play like we're capable, we definitely can go far.''

Cruz and Beltre both would like to play in the World Baseball Classic for the Dominican Republic.

Beltre played for his home country in 2006 but had to skip the event in 2009 while with the Seattle Mariners "because I was hurt and the team didn't allow me to,'' he said.

Rangers closer Joe Nathan said he has been approached by Joe Torre about playing for the United States, and was told he could have a couple of weeks to think about it.

"We want to make sure as we hit those later months that I'm as good as I can be for this club,'' Nathan said. "If the WBC isn't part of that equation, obviously I back out.''

 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • DSC_0111web.jpg ‘Team behind the Team’

    For the second-straight year, the Claremore Zebra student training staff will be represented in the Oklahoma Coaches All-State games held in Tulsa.
    Meranda Golbek and Sarah Szcinski, a pair of 2014 Claremore High School graduates, earned All-State honors for their athletic training careers and will join two other student trainers from Jenks and Stillwater High School on the East squad.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • FISHFRYweb.jpg Claremore QB Club holds Fish Fry Aug. 2

    The Claremore Zebra Quarterback Club will hold its annual Fish Fry fundraiser on Aug. 2 at the Claremore High School cafeteria.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • MLB: Rangers struggle in 9-3 loss to A's

    A rough month didn't get any better for Texas on Sunday night, even though the game-time temperature of 100 degrees would have seemed to be in the Rangers' favor against Oakland.

    However, they trailed 5-0 in the second inning en route to a 9-3 loss to the Athletics. Texas has lost 15 of its last 18 and dropped to 4-19 in July.

    July 28, 2014

  • Lost Red Sox title ring returned by Yankees fan

    A lost Red Sox World Series ring is back on the finger of its owner, thanks to a nifty pickup by an ardent New York Yankees fan.

    Manhattan restaurant owner Luigi Militello could hardly believe it when he found the shiny 2013 championship ring on a restroom sink at his Luke's Bar and Grill on Thursday night.

    July 28, 2014

  • MLB: First-place Dodgers complete sweep of Giants

    Manager Don Mattingly hardly considers a late-July sweep in San Francisco a turning point to put his Dodgers in the driver's seat atop the NL West.

    Yet coming off consecutive series losses at St. Louis and Pittsburgh, Los Angeles needed some sort of spark as August approaches. The Dodgers found it in the ballpark of their biggest rival, and left the Bay Area in first place following an emphatic three-game swing.

    Carl Crawford hit an RBI triple to back Hyun-Jin Ryu's third straight victory, and division-leading Los Angeles beat the Giants 4-3 Sunday night to establish some momentum behind their pitching and offense.

    July 28, 2014

  • NBA: Lakers set on hiring Byron Scott for new coach

    The Los Angeles Lakers have waited nearly three months to hire a new coach, and they're apparently making Byron Scott wait a few more days.

    Scott said this weekend that he has been hired by the Lakers, but the club insisted Sunday that no deal has been reached.

    July 28, 2014

  • NASCAR: Jeff Gordon claims fifth Brickyard 400 title

    With a tinge of gray hair at his temples, his hat on backward and his two young children by his side, Jeff Gordon celebrated as if he was 23 years old again.

    Gordon won a NASCAR-record fifth Brickyard 400 on Sunday, eight days before his 43rd birthday and on the weekend Indianapolis Motor Speedway celebrated the 20th anniversary of his first Brickyard victory.

    July 28, 2014

  • MLB: Thomas, Torre highlight HOF class

    Frank Thomas choked back tears, Joe Torre apologized for leaving people out of his speech and Tony La Russa said he felt uneasy.

    Being enshrined in the Hall of Fame can have those effects, even on the greats.

    Thomas, pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, and managers Bobby Cox, Torre and La Russa were inducted into the baseball shrine Sunday, and all paid special tribute to their families before an adoring crowd of nearly 50,000.

    July 28, 2014

  • Blackmon a 'big deal' for the wrong reasons

    The sports world is littered with gifted athletes whose self-destructive tendencies derailed what should have been promising careers. Ex-Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon appears to be on that well-worn path with his latest arrest.

    July 27, 2014

  • BASEBALL: Three Rivers Bandits notch 8th-straight win

    The Three Rivers Bandits seem to be getting hot when they need to be, heading into next week’s state tournament.

    The Bartlesville Indians were victims of the heat as the Bandits swept a doubleheader from them, 2-0 and then 9-2, on Saturday at Connors State College for their eighth straight win.

    July 27, 2014